Generation Z and Millennials are still big fans of books – even in the event that they don't call themselves “readers.”

Illustrative reading: “43% of Generation Z and Millennials do not identify as readers.”

Identifying with an activity is different than actually doing it.

For example, 49% of Americans play video games, but only 10% Identify yourself as a gamer.

According to a recent survey we conductedThere can also be a small gap between reading activity and identity amongst younger readers: 61% of Generation Z and Millennials have read a print book, e-book or audiobook within the last 12 months, but only 57% discover as readers.

And yet, there was a puzzling aspect of our results: The 43% of Gen Z and Millennials who didn’t discover as readers actually said they read more print books every month than Gen Z and Millennials overall.

In other words, young individuals who don’t discover as readers read books more often than their generational cohorts as a complete.


Our best guess is that “reader” is an identity, not a behavior. And that identity is solidified through participation in book clubs, participation in social media communities like Booktok and Bookstagram, and access to libraries and bookstores.

Building book communities

The identities of reader, writer and fan seem to strengthen one another.

Millennials and members of Generation Z who discover as readers are also more prone to be writers and take part in fandom.

Community is essential to all of those identities. For example, two of the fundamental reasons millennials and members of Generation Z discover as fans are the proven fact that they’re “part of a fan community” and may “meet others like me.”

Every August, the Edinburgh Book International Book Festival in Scotland – the most important book festival on this planet – offers a complete month of events focused on books, authors and readers.

During the Event 2023which we attended, you can see attendees clamoring for writers like Alice Oseman, writer of the book Bestselling graphic novels “Heartstopper.”.

We heard fans in that line talking about how Oseman's series introduced the primary queer characters they'd encountered in a book. Readers got here to the festival with family and friends and made latest friends and contacts on the event. The passion was palpable.

What “counts” as reading.

But is a graphic novel like “Heartstopper” even considered “real” reading?

If the National Endowment for the Arts Definitions from the early 2000s are to be believed, then no – unless it’s reading literature in your free time, it must not be “real” reading.

And some Millennials and members of Generation Z may consider that the reading they’re reading just isn’t real reading. But a narrow definition of what counts as reading ignores Gen Z and Millennials' love of content like graphic novels, manga and comics.

In our study, 59% said they would like a graphic version of a story to a plain text version. And let’s not forget audiobooks, which 34% of Gen Zers and Millennials prefer over text-only books. Millennials and members of Generation Z also read non-fiction books or read for varsity and work moderately than for pleasure.

In a separate study from 2020We found that 83% of American readers read books for reasons apart from entertainment, similar to school, work, or self-expression.

What makes a reader?

More Gen Z and Millennial women discover as readers, so gender differences could also be at play: It could also be that young men, regardless of how much they read, are reluctant to discover closely with an activity that they perceive to be the purview of ladies .

Socioeconomic status also can play a task in whether someone feels they will claim a reader identity. Gen Z and Millennials who didn’t discover as readers were less prone to have had a job and earned less money up to now 12 months.

So it seems that identifying as a reader is commonly about community, wealth, and gender—and what counts as reading—moderately than how much someone actually reads.

Perhaps we are able to attempt to broaden the definition of “reading” – yes, audio books and comics are included – and organize book communities through places similar to: B. to accumulate Bookstagram And BookTok. And being a reader can mean greater than just loving classic literature, although certain social media trends like “Read like Rory” — a BookTok phenomenon that focuses on the literary classic “Gilmore Girls” read by Rory Gilmore — was exactly that.

If young people viewed being a reader as simply having fun with and fascinating with stories, how a lot of them would even consider themselves readers?

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